February 17, 2012
Dear NJGCA Member:
Here's what you'll find in this edition of the NJGCA Road Warrior, and thank you for reading:
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
•Alternatives and the Market Place Rollercoaster
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
•Residents seek permission to merger two towns to save tax dollars
•Two counties will install solar panels in rest areas
•Fuel economy rises to new record in January; emissions drop
•NJ company makes ‘green' gasoline from biomass
TRAINING CLASS SCHEDULE
•Interested in taking a class? Contact us today!
•Regency Property Appraisers: Serving all your appraisal needs in NJ, NY, and beyond!
MEET THE FOLKS AT LIBERTY GAS
•Looking for a new brand for your station? Take a look at the opportunity below!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
•TMP Energy Solutions: Another Way to Save On Your Energy Bills!
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM BELLOMO FUELS
•Serving New Jersey since 1910 -- Over 100 years of supplying gasoline retailers like YOU!
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
•Participate in the NJGCA PAC today and help us keep our Agenda rolling in Trenton!
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
•On the NJGCA Homepage
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
Alternatives and the Market Place Rollercoaster
USDOL still on the prowl for violators
Sal’s a dope and here’s why
It shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this that I’m a supporter of alternative fuels and advancing automotive technology. I haven’t made that fact a secret to anyone and I certainly don’t shy away from telling folks why I believe that anyone in our industry should feel the same.
To the interested observer, 2011 was certainly a fascinating year to make the argument that investing in alternatives should be a priority. After all, the year ended with alternative vehicle sales (hybrids, electric cars) lower than anticipated at the beginning of the year.
Does that mean this mode of transportation and its future in our vehicle landscape is dead? Not by a long shot!
While it certainly is true that the numbers didn’t meet expectations, it wasn’t because these technologies aren’t competent or the market for them doesn’t exist. Rather, they are easily explained by outside factors which have impacted the transportation industry overall. For example, consider the rise and fall of gas prices during the last year. When compared to the first half of the year, there was a sharp decline in the price of gas in the second half of 2011. To anyone holding off on making a vehicle purchase, the last six months of 2011 may have seemed like gasoline was being sold at discount prices, which obviously affected Mr. and Mrs. Consumers’ automobile purchase. Then of course there’s the fact that the last few years have seen an enormous rise in the number of vehicles that are equipped with more fuel-conscious internal combustion engines (ICE). It was only a few years ago that you had to drive a go-kart or a hybrid to get real-world MPG numbers that approached 40 miles per gallon. Today, there’s a slate of very comfortable, very attractive cars for sale that not only achieve those numbers with ICE motors, but do so at a smaller price than alternative-powered automobiles.
What does this mean? Well, a few things actually. First it means that people often think (and vote) with their wallets and pocketbooks before their heads. Secondly it means that, hands down, market conditions will always affect buying habits. And lastly, it only demonstrates that everything is cyclical; today’s benefit may be tomorrow’s limitation.
Stated more succinctly, when gas prices are high, the political world and motoring public hits the panic button; but when prices are low, they hit the snooze button.
Sounds about right, doesn’t it? But that shouldn’t stop you from investigating (and investing) in alternative energy. Whether we like it or not, alternatives are here to stay, and that segment of the market promises to grow in the years ahead. What’s more, those customers will need to be serviced by small business owners like you.
How do I know this? Well, that’s a bit more complicated. However, it’s sufficient to say that the current state of geopolitics, the economy, and technology will play a significant factor. As I type this, there is instability in Iran that has the potential to unhinge the oil market. The world economy is still relatively weak, with a debt crisis that is looming very large in Europe and America alike. And while this is all festering, new technological achievements in the energy industry offer some hope of relieving the pressure on all of this.
This, in part, points to a future which guards against such volatility. If motorists depended less on oil-based fuels to power their vehicles – and more on compressed natural gas (CNG), electricity, and biofuels – who would care as much about potential disturbances in Iran, Venezuela, or in other areas of the world?
That is ultimately why the current volatility has me worried about you and all other NJGCA members. It is also why I have redoubled my efforts to investigate these technologies to not only educate you on the future of our business, but to instigate the change needed to get us there.
For example, I was at an energy conference on Wednesday that dealt with solar installations. I know a lot of you reading that may think, “Solar is expensive and the return on the investment is small”. Well you’d be right --- 20 yeas ago! Today solar energy is not only much more affordable, but it is more efficient than it’s ever been. Translation: You get more electricity for a smaller investment. Now imagine that you could add a solar installation at your business to not only help lower your own electricity bills to the local utility, but possibly even power an electric charging station for your customers. Sound crazy? It really isn’t as far fetched (or expensive) as you think!
But my trek doesn’t stop with solar power. Next week I’m going to a renewable fuels conference in Florida and then I’m off to Washington for an energy independence summit. To the outsider it may seem like I’m racking up the frequent flier miles just for the sake of travel, but trust me, I wouldn’t do it without a purpose. Besides, I HATE TO TRAVEL!
No, I’m going to these conferences because for too long, our members – and other retailers out there in this business – have been at the mercy of events out of our control. We are all puppets dangling at the end of the rope that starts in an oil dyke and ends at your corner service station.
It’s time we start the process of cutting that rope and take control for ourselves! I hope you will be bold enough to take that voyage with me, but with you or without you, the journey has already begun!
Another week, another USDOL story to report. No, I’m not going to stop on this tirade until the storm passes, and you shouldn’t let your guard down until it does either.
I’ve received more phone calls this week about USDOL officials conducting surveillance at several locations, entering the premises with cause, auditing payrolls, and causing huge headaches for members and non-members alike!
In every instance, the dealers have had problems that would have been easily avoided had they made the simple changes I’ve been harping about since Summer of 2011. In two of the most recent examples, both dealers candidly told me that they have been reading our newsletters for months, but neither one made the necessary changes and now they’re in hot water with USDOL.
What’s even more upsetting is that both were fully aware of the Calibration & Regulatory Seminars we held in November, but neither attended, and the very information they needed to avoid this mess went unheard. Considering how hefty the fines are, how much do you wanna bet they’d like to go back and undo that decision?
The bottom line here is that USDOL is on a mission to make sure everyone is in compliance. They said they’d visit every retail service station in the state, and they will make good on that promise. I’m not going to stop bugging you about complying with the law until everyone gets it!
In other news, it turns out that sometimes I can be a dope (though if you ask the staff, it happens somewhat more frequently than not). Let me explain.
Several weeks ago in an e-newsletter, I alluded to a letter I was sending legislators concerning a bill which would restrict the difference between your cash/credit prices. Though we placed a link in the email for you to read the letter, I never sent it. The reason? I had it pulled out of the mailbox since I was a dope and the letter was erroneous!
When Eric Blomgren, our Government Affairs Assistant, initially came to my office to tell me about S-1243, a new piece of legislation, I read the bill language quickly and immediately got upset. My first instinct was to be protective of our members, and as my blood began to boil and my brain explode, my eyes deceived me.
Rather than act rationally and re-read the bill language, I immediately got angry, dictated a letter to Eric, and asked him for forward it to all 120 legislators. Since the bill came to my attention on a Thursday afternoon, I also asked Nick De Palma, our Communications Director, to write about this in that night’s Road Warrior communication and include the link to the letter.
The next morning, as I (more) calmly read the Road Warrior from my home computer, I berated myself for not noticing Nick’s spelling error in explaining that the new legislation called for a four-PERCENT limit, rather than a four-CENT limit. At first I thought that perhaps I dictated the message incorrectly to Eric, but upon checking it a second time, I realized that the legislation did in fact allowed for a four-PERCENT difference in cash/credit pricing! In a rush to protect our members, I hasn’t read the bill carefully enough!
Obviously the is a WORLD of difference between being held to a four-PERCENT difference in pricing and a four-CENT difference in pricing. Since no one has a credit card fee higher than three-percent, the four-percent limit could be considered generous and it would be wrong for our organization to oppose it. Three little letters changed the entire meaning of the bill!
Meanwhile back at NJGCA headquarters, Eric had printed all 120 letters out the evening before and they were all read to go out that Friday morning. As I headed into the office, I suddenly remembered the letters, but thankfully they hadn’t gone out yet and were still waiting to be picked up by the mailman. Talk about luck!!
TO RECAP: I’m a dope + four-PERCENT (and NOT four-CENT) limit on implementing cash/credit pricing = good for our members.
In this week’s Policy Patrol, and in keeping with the theme of renewable energy, A-566 is on The Radar Screen. The bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Asm. Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Asm. Angel Fuentes (D-Camden), and Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen); as well as the Senate version S-341 sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex). This proposal was passed by the Assembly almost exactly one year ago by a 46-18-13 vote; but was stalled before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. This bill would give out corporation business tax credits to any business which installs an electric charging station. It would amount to 25% of the cost of the purchase and installation in the first year (up to $500), 15% of the cost (up to $300) the second year, and finally 8% of the cost in the third year (up to $150). This bill would help lower the cost paid by you and other small businesses and allow you to break the chicken-and-egg cycle of stations not installing charging station because consumers do not have electric cars and consumers not buying electric cars because there is nowhere to charge them. Motorists are already comfortable with pulling in to a gas station to refill their car and they will likely be comfortable waiting a few more minutes to get their car charged.
This week’s Policy Patrol also brings you the latest whiff from The Manure Pile as we shine a light on A-557, a bill which “designates walking as the New Jersey State Exercise”. Yes, really. For 224 years New Jersey has not had a “state exercise”, I think we can survive a bit longer without one. What the hell is a state exercise anyway? If this bill was passed, do you really think anyone in this state would walk more because of it? The bill actually argues that “the quality of life in New Jersey” and “the health and well-being of its residents” will be enhanced simply by making walking the official State Exercise. Why walking? Because apparently “walking is a fun activity that friends and family can do together.” It would seem that some legislators have a different definition of the word “fun” than I do.
Thanks for listening - See you next week!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
Residents seek permission to merger two towns to save tax dollars
Without local government involvement, the citizens of two towns in Union County have taken the first steps toward a possible municipal merger. The residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood are the first to take advantage of the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Act of 2007, which outlines what steps residents can pursue to consolidate towns without local government participation. The two towns already share a school district, a library and have talked about merging police departments. With the cost of local government levying a high property tax burden on residents and small business owners, NJGCA members should follow the issue of consolidation and shared services with some interest. Click above to read the full article.
Two counties will install solar panels in rest areas
Adopt-A-Watt, Inc., a new public-private partnership, was announced on Wednesday by NJGDOT Commissioner James Simpson. The partnership promotes sustainable solar energy projects and plans to build and maintain installations in Warren and Salem counties at no cost to the state. You can learn more about Adopt-A-Watt at www.adopt-a-watt.com or click above to read the full article.
Fuel economy rises to new record in January; emissions drop
A recent report indicates that the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in January rose to 23 mpg. The new statistics represent a new all time record for fuel economy. The same study also stated that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 14% since 2007, thanks in part to new, cleaner engine technologies implemented by automakers. Click above to read more.
NJ company makes ‘green gasoline’ from biomass
A company based in Somerset County is set to build a commercial plant to convert wood pallets and other biomass into gasoline. The company has already produced fuel samples from a pilot plant, but is gearing up to build a site that would convert 44,000 tons of wood pellets into 4.8 million gallons of "green” gasoline, and eventually hopes to construct a full-scale commercial site to annually convert 530,000 tons of wood pellets and other biomass into 75 million to 80 million gallons of gasoline. Click above to read full details.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES IN OUR “NEWS AROUND THE STATE” ARCHIVE
-ALL CLASSES WILL BE HELD AT NJGCA HEADQUARTERS-
66 Morris Avenue - Springfield, NJ 07081 (Union County)
PLEASE NOTE: FUTURE DATES WILL BE ADDED UPON REQUEST AND ACCORDING TO DEMAND. CONTACT DEBBIE at 973-376-0066 or DEBBIE@NJGCA.ORG TO LET HER KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TAKING A SPECIFIC CLASS. THIS WILL ALLOW US TO GAUGE YOUR NEEDS AND KEEP TRACK OF THOSE WISHING TO PARTICIPATE!!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
TMP Energy Solutions
Another Way to Save on Your Energy Bills
We have had a number of NJGCA members successfully reduce their rate per kWh signing up through our energy saving program. We know it’s difficult to collect 12 months worth of previous electric bills to get an “accurate” analysis when comparing a variable rate to a fixed rate, but we now have another option available.
This new solution is a power purchase option; the other program is still in full force and has saved members thousands of dollars. If you sign up for the power purchase option, you will be grouped with other NJGCA members until the minimum KW demand is acquired. By pooling the member’s usage together, you will be able to take advantage, as large energy users do, and receive a lower kWh rate.
Each member will receive their own contract. Each member is responsible to sign and return the agreement the day it is received in order to secure the price for their group.
Please do your due diligence, so when you receive the proposal and the agreement you will be able to make an intelligent decision.
If by chance, you still want us to assess you bills, to give you a price to compare, we will require12 months of your most recent utility bills.
There are no bills required, but we would still like to have one bill per meter on file to check account #’s, meter #’s service addresses and other pertinent information incase there is a problem.
The term of the agreement is for 12 months. During this term period, you will have price protection against any energy price increases along with a low fixed kWh rate.
If you are interested in becoming part of this power purchase option, please contact Phil Apruzzi at the NJGCA.
Remember when you sign up your energy through the NJGCA Energy Program, TMP makes a considerable donation to the NJGCA Scholarship Fund through their proceeds. This has no affect on your rate, and costs you nothing out of pocket.
We hope to help hundreds of NJGCA members reduce their utility costs by participating in this and our other cost reduction programs. Our purpose, in the endeavor, is to help NJGCA members lower their energy costs while supporting the NJGCA Scholarship Fund.
Contact Phil Apruzzi at 973-376-0066 or email Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention that you are interested in saving money on your energy bills. NJGCA & TMP Energy Solutions will handle all the rest.
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
DEFENDING OUR MEMBERS.
PROTECTING YOUR INTERESTS.
ANSWER THE CALL & CONTRIBUTE TODAY!!
Promoting our agenda in Trenton is of utmost importance to NJGCA and our members.
To truly understand the importance of supporting our allies, consider our successes in Trenton:
However, in order to truly affect the debate, we must ensure our friends in the Legislature are re-elected. It is for this reason that your Association has established the NJGCA PAC.
For too long, the weight of funding our Political Action Committee, the arm of the Association responsible for political donations, has rested upon a few. This is not only unfair to those few members who have shouldered this burden, but means we are not utilizing our full strength to affect the debate in Trenton.
We defeated BELOW COST SELLING
We made history in getting FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL signed into law!
We have built large support for RIGHT TO REPAIR and got it passed out of the Assembly
We defended your small business against the false accusations of Attorney General Anne Milgram
We gained wide support to move New Jersey to an all PIF Inspection System and close the CIF lanes
...and MUCH MORE!!
In each instance, we achieved these goals with the help of our friends in the Legislature!
If every member contributes just $100.00 we will be able to provide the help necessary to ensure victory for our allies.
PLEASE SEND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO:
66 Morris Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081
Please make your donation payable to NJGCA PAC
I understand that times are tough for all NJGCA members, but this is just as important as any battle we have fought in the past.
We have made great progress in Trenton. I hope that you will answer the call.
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
ON THE NJGCA HOMEPAGE
MEMBER SAVINGS PAGE
Check out all of our MBPs and Programs designed to SAVE YOU MONEY!
Looking for something? Take a look at our list of useful links!
Find all our communications and search for old e-newsletters. Take a look!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE ARCHIVE
Need to catch up on events? Want to see what's going on? Find out here!